May 15, 2020
We have heard from several dealers that some employees have claimed they are exempt from wearing a protective face covering based on health conditions, disability, religion, personal freedoms, or constitutional rights. You are not required to allow an employee to work without a face mask in violation of Executive Orders and guidance.
If this situation arises at your business, reach out to your employment attorney or employment consulting firm for steps to take. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is a process for verification of these claims and the potential need for accommodation, but each circumstance is different, and consultation with your employment attorney or employment consulting team is the best course of action.
Executive Order 61 and the corresponding Guidelines for All Business Sectors provide the following:
Employees must wear face masks in customer-facing areas. Executive Order 61 paragraph (A)(1)(b)-(c) provides:
- b. Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.
- c. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.
Frequent Question: “In my sales/finance department, we’ve placed glass partitions to separate employees and customers. Do those employees still need to wear face coverings?”
Answer: Neither Executive Order 61 nor the corresponding Guidelines clearly answer this question. However, because the Order/Guidelines do require employees in non-essential brick and mortar retail to wear face coverings when facing customers, it is our understanding even sales/finance employees separated from customers by a partition must wear face coverings when facing customers.
Employers must supply face coverings, and employees should wear them when physical distancing cannot be strictly maintained.
Under Executive Order 61 paragraph (C)(1), it states that for essential retail businesses—including automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities—"Employers are required to provide face coverings to employees.”
Further, Executive Order 61 stipulates essential retail businesses should comply with physical distancing best practices for all business sectors in the Guidelines. Those Guidelines provide, “Where possible, employees and customers should utilize face coverings. (See CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance for more detailed information). Where six feet of physical distance is not possible in a given business setting, employers should provide face covering to employees, such as utilizing the CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance."
The guidance as it relates to your dealerships
For both sales/finance and service, with Executive Order 61 and the Guidelines taken together, it is our reading employers must provide employees with face coverings, and employees must wear them when facing customers and where physical distancing cannot be strictly maintained.
To avoid confusion, have your employees wear face coverings, even when interacting with other employees. And encourage customers to wear face coverings while entering, exiting, or otherwise traveling throughout the store. Use common sense.